Thursday, October 28, 2010

Living in the Past

The forum last week for NH House District One told us everything we needed to know about local candidates with the very first question. Moderator George Epstein asked the candidates if they thought civility was important. All of the Democratic candidates found civility to be very important. The Republicans did not. Perennial candidate Frank McCarthy stood up and began bellowing on a different subject entirely. In fact, none of the Republican candidates answered the question. Chandler blabbered about voting records, Umberger defended the ads of the Romance Novelist, and Pettingill (who is nearly as bellicose as Major Frank) attempted to claim that at least they (Republicans) are entertaining. There’s a reason why there are no Republican comedians, Laurie.

The Republican candidates proved that they could stay on message. Their message was taxes, taxes, taxes - and they stuck with it. They have no new ideas on how to do anything; they just know that lowering taxes and cutting spending will fix everything. I don’t remember their philosophy being any kind of a success in the late 1980’s, when there were few jobs to be had in the area. The GOP controlled legislature did nothing to restore industry to the north country. The wage scale has been unchanged for the 25 years I’ve lived here. Our GOP legislators fought strenuously against increasing the minimum wage. Like their national party, they believe in giving huge tax breaks to millionaires while gouging the poor folks and the middle class. The Tax Foundation report that they love to quote (erroneously) from finds that NH’s property taxes are the third highest in the nation. No wonder our GOP brethren don’t hand out copies of that report.

That same GOP controlled legislature did nothing to ensure that north country residents would have access to the kind of technology we need to be competitive in the global market. At the 2006 candidate’s forum, we learned that Gene Chandler doesn’t know how to use email. I’m guessing Major Frank can’t, either, since I couldn’t find an email address listed anywhere for him. He’d be a shoo-in for the Science, Technology, and Energy Committee, in a GOP controlled House. NH (and indeed the entire nation) has fallen far behind in the field of communications technology. Our Republican candidates have no plans, nor interest in doing anything about this. From listening to them, I know that the only thing that concerns them is no taxes and cutting spending.

Ooops, I forgot personal liberties. Major Frank made a point of yelling his support for personal liberties. “No one should be told they have to wear a helmet or a seatbelt.” That’s where his support for personal liberties ends. He shouted something derogatory about marriage equality toward the end of the forum. Like all Republicans, he’s in favor of personal liberties for white, heterosexual men. Women’s wombs are public property, and gay folks are a hated (despite all of the GOP closet queens) minority.
To my dismay, one of my colleagues here at the paper recently expressed his outrage that gay folks didn’t just sit back and wait till the country was ready to accept them. If we change “gay” to “black” or “women” how does that read? Yep, it’s a pity we didn’t wait till everyone was ready to end slavery, end prohibitions against interracial marriage, or end segregation. What a shame we didn’t wait till everyone was ready for women to vote. If we had, I’m certain I’d have other plans for November 2. Naturally the systematic oppression that the white, heterosexual males have experienced in our nation makes them well qualified to address the suffering of others.

Major Frank blustered his opinion that NH was the only state that raised its budget during the last biennium. A report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows otherwise. Eight other states increased their budgets: Connecticut, Maine, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, and Washington. That’s the trouble with mindlessly mouthing talking points. They aren’t necessarily correct. Just like that Tax Foundation report that shows NH’s business tax climate rates 7th in the nation. The GOP is still intent on telling us the report says otherwise. It’s like listening to Groucho Marx: “who you gonna believe? Me, or your own lying eyes?”

Perhaps the most unintentionally hilarious moments of the evening came during the discussion of gambling. The Democrats were all either supportive of building casinos, or at least willing to consider it. Ed Butler pointed out that he supported bills during the last session, because after all, gambling is a business. The Republicans were all opposed. Chandler said that the projections are pie-in-the-sky and that gambling is bad in a recession. Umberger said that gambling is not a panacea that is going to solve all of our revenue problems. Major Frank hollered, “It makes me sick.” Pettingill described gambling as a regressive revenue source. This has to be a first in local candidate forum history – the Republicans were expressing MY views about gambling! But isn’t it a business? I thought the GOP was the business friendly party? Our candidates spoke incessantly about bringing business to NH – yet here they are sounding like nanny state pinkos! Isn’t gambling a personal choice? What about personal responsibility and liberty? And since when are Republicans opposed to regressive taxes?

The bottom line is simple. The GOP wants to take our country and our state backward. When they talk about sitting around the kitchen table cutting the budget, I’m reminded of former one term GOP governor Craig Benson who loved that analogy. Good old corrupt Craig, who gave us scandal after scandal, not to mention the highest paid state employee. We can indeed all sit down with our budgets and make cuts. There comes a point though, when no more cuts can be made. That’s when we rise from the kitchen table and go get a part time job to help supplement our income. NH needs a part time job. No matter what the regressives of the GOP tell you, we do have a revenue problem. We lack the maturity and the media to even have the discussion about the problems with our tax structure. We also have the very serious problem of being mired in the past. We who live in the north can see the problems created by climate change, yet our GOP legislators are in firm denial of science. Living in the past won’t take our state into the future.

"About the time we can make the ends meet, somebody moves the ends.” ~ Herbert Hoover

© sbruce 2010

This was published as an op-ed in the October 29, 2010 issue of the Conway Daily Sun.

1 comment:

DissedBelief said...

Since I've closely followed politics (which is since Ronnie Regans illustrious time in office) I've not ONCE read/heard a Republican speak of social issues. I'm referring to childhood poverty of which you very recently wrote, homelessness, unemployment, education, health care, elder care etc. The list of what Repubs never address is endless. However, since Reagan and especially since HBush, Taxes (and war)appear the only things they have to lean on. And of course, their old standby, abortion. The grim, old and pathetic party is one of grand hypocrisy and nought else. The Broederbonders may very well get themselves voted in on Tuesd. and if they do, we'll have endless entertainment and finger pointing until the next election.